George Arrow bequeaths his estranged son, Henry, a mansion filled with insane women.
What were writer/director Mickey Reece’s intentions behind making the darkly humorous, purposefully absurd, microbudget oddity Arrows of Outrageous Fortune? At just a notch over an hour, its so-called plot sort of sits there, taking awkward detours and spiraling out of control towards the finale. The filmmaker possesses a knack for comedic timing and eccentricity, but his Arrows isn’t nearly as “outrageous” as he seems to think it is. Instead of a “vast, comic opera,” he’s concocted an oddity that left me utterly stumped.
Split into three Acts, Arrows opens with Mimi (Kinsey Charles) telling her distant boyfriend Henry (Alex Sanchez) that she’s missing intimacy. “This isn’t working,” she bluntly states. Henry’s response – that he wants more autonomy and to “go where he pleases” – upsets Mimi, who harbors dreams of getting married. When Henry finds out that his hateful father, George (Ben Hall), is dying, he’s determined to stay home and eat ice-cream – yet Mimi insists that he bids daddy farewell.
“When Henry finds out that his hateful father…is dying, he’s determined to stay home and eat ice-cream…”
At the hospital, Henry meets Dad’s “secret family” including his half-sister, the uber-goth Teresa (Michaelene Stephenson) and their mother Gerlinde (Mary Buss), whose violent gum-chewing is almost as off-putting as her name. “I loved your mother,” George tells his son remorsefully, “it was a mistake to pretend it never happened.” “You’re an a*****e, and I’m glad that you’re dying,” Henry responds, seconds before his father’s eyes grow glassy.
While Teresa, who sports a fake lightning bolt tattoo on her face, couldn’t give less of a s**t about her $1.8 million inheritance, Henry gets his father’s giant gated mansion, much to Gerlinde’s disdain. Just as Henry is settling in his new home with his buddy Greg (Mason Giles), the zany Evelyn (Cate Jones), a “friend of George’s,” comes to collect her stuff. She’s soon followed by Teresa, Gerlinde, and Evelyn (how do they all get past the gates?), resulting in heated arguments, self-inflicted abortions, weddings and, yes, you guessed it – cannibalism. The WTF ending is so ridiculous, it almost works, emphasis on “almost”.
The film’s score is an odd hybrid of electronic music and spoken-word that inexplicably incorporates a reading of Shakespeare’s Hamlet (off-kilter allusions to the Bard permeate the film). Budgetary constraints aside, some scenes are clumsily staged, the camera out of focus and the blocking messy. Reece also treads the fine line between “tasteful” and “objectionable”, especially when it comes to his portrayal of women as screechy, greedy and/or needy. A lengthy flashback to Gerlinde’s affair with a disabled biker leaves a sour taste. As for the “poignant” scenes, such as Greg’s “bonding” with Teresa – I wish Reece didn’t even go there.
“…what he’s good at – writing zingy punchlines and eliciting an endearing performance from his lead…”
If he stuck to what he’s good at – writing zingy punchlines and eliciting an endearing performance from his lead – the filmmaker could’ve had a charming little lo-fi comedy here. Alex Sanchez has a knack for delivering one-liners, carrying the film on his shoulders. “People die all the time, especially dads,” Henry says. (It’s funnier than it sounds.) There are also a few amusing tidbits, like Henry masturbating feverishly in the bathtub, or Evelyn breaking into heaving sobs out of the blue.
So what’s Reece’s film about? Is it about letting go of the past and following your dreams? Is it about family bonds and revenge, Hamlet-style? A sketch instead of a fully fleshed-out feature, Arrows won’t attract giant crowds to theaters (or VOD channels) but serves as a decent showcase of the filmmaker’s wit and go-for-broke aesthetic. With another script rewrite, more depth and less of that forced wackiness, this could have truly been a decent little dark comedy. If Reece wants to earn an outrageous fortune making movies, he better sharpen his arrows.
Arrows of Outrageous Fortune (2019) Written and Directed by Mickey Reece. Starring Kinsey Charles, Alex Sanchez, Catherine Pitt, Mary Buss, Jacob Ryan Snovel, Cate Jones, Ben Hall.
5 out of 10